Virat Kohli backs MS Dhoni to find momentum ahead of 2019 World Cup
Kohli made no bones about his first-choice for the wicketkeeper's slot in the limited-overs format.
What's the story?
Indian ODI skipper Virat Kohli backed MS Dhoni to remain an integral part of the side in the lead up to the 2019 World Cup and is confident that the high number of games that the Men in Blue will play in the 50-over format in the coming months will help the 36-year-old cope with the demands of international cricket despite his retirement from the Test format.
"This coming season gives us an opportunity to define roles for players and give them time to execute it so that for the World Cup, we know exactly what one player needs to do in certain situations," Kohli said ahead of the second ODI against Sri Lanka on Thursday.
"And it helps someone like MS also because he doesn't play Test cricket anymore. This long streak of matches will help him be in touch with the international games, find some momentum and stick to it," Kohli added.
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Question marks have been raised about Dhoni's future with the 2019 World Cup still more than 18 months away.
Dhoni will be approaching 38 by the time and the impressive performances of the experienced Dinesh Karthik and the up and coming Rishabh Pant has led to suggestions from some quarters that the Indian selectors should opt for blooding in either of the two in the ODI side.
The heart of the matter
Kohli is, however, confident that Dhoni is still the man for the wicketkeeper's job at the 2019 World Cup and is confident that his predecessor can regain his form which has deserted him in the recent past.
While Dhoni's early days of aggressiveness are well behind him, he has managed to remodel his game as a batsman who is ready to play the long haul and accelerating towards the end overs.
With his vast experience in the shorter formats of the game, Kohli is expecting Dhoni to play a big role at the 2019 World Cup and also want every other player in the side to identify their roles in the side in time for the big event.
With four ODIs against Sri Lanka remaining in the five match series and another five-match series scheduled against Australia at home, starting September 17, Dhoni has plenty of opportunities at hand to silence his doubters who are calling for his head.
The nine-wicket victory in the first ODI against Sri Lanka meant that Dhoni failed to get a bat at Dambulla but Dhoni and the rest of the batsmen will be hoping to spend some time in the middle in the remaining matches at Pallekele and Colombo.
Kohli has well and truly silenced the critics calling for Dhoni's head with his words ahead of the second ODI and by bidding adieu to Test cricket pretty early, Dhoni has set his priorities right by focussing on the limited-overs format.
With the way Dhoni has looked after his fitness, there is no doubt that he can be a vital member of the side at the 2019 World Cup and there is no reason, apart from an alarming dip in form, why he shouldn't be considered for selection.